By Michael Baadke
The London galleries of the Spink auction firm will host three auctions over the course of three days, beginning the morning of Tuesday, July 10, and continuing through Thursday, July 12.
Along with its Philatelic Collectors’ series sale of worldwide stamps, covers, large lots and collections, Spink will also offer individual lots from a collection of line-engraved and surface-printed material of Great Britain (including stamps and postal history), and what the auction firm describes as “the last of the fine group of sales offered on behalf of David Pitts.”
This final Pitts collection sale offers classic issues of British North America and is crowned by a stamp that Spink describes as “the finest known used example of the 1851 laid paper 12d. black.”
The reference is to Canada’s 12-penny black Queen Victoria stamp (Scott 3), generally acknowledged as the rarest and most valuable Canadian issue, and a key item among the many classic stamps of the British Commonwealth.
The stamp is described by Spink as “a spectacular used example in an intense deep colour and with full strong detailed impression on bright paper indicating that this was quite probably from an early impression of the plate, large to exceptionally large margins giving a well-balanced appearance and neatly cancelled with a single clear strike of the seven-ring target postmark.”
Spink identifies the provenance for this stamp as Hart, Barclay, Consul Weinberger, and Schneider. Certificates accompanying the stamp are from Balasse (1980) and the Philatelic Foundation (1983).
The stamp is listed with a pre-auction estimate of £100,000, roughly equivalent to $132,000 some three weeks before the sale. The stamp listing in the 2018 Scott Classic Specialized Catalogue of Stamps and Covers 1840-1940 includes a value of $135,000 for a used example, with the amount listed in italics to denote an item that can be difficult to value accurately.
The Pitts collection sale comprises more than 260 lots of classic British North America, with many used stamps, some 18th-century postal history, and additional prestamp covers, including an 1814 triple-weight entire letter from Charlotte Town to London bearing the earliest recorded Prince Edward Island datestamp.
The Philatelic Collectors’ series sale offers a substantial selection of British Commonwealth material, but extends beyond to include items from France, Germany, Italy and more.
The Betty Watterson collection of Labuan is featured in this auction, as is a significant range of Cape of Good Hope postal history, Sudan airmails, Rhodesia and South Africa.
Another key item from the Commonwealth appearing in this sale, and a remarkable rarity on its own, is Trinidad’s 1901 black on red Britannia issue with the value omitted (Scott 78a).
There are but three known examples of this unusual variety with a value tablet along the bottom that is almost entirely blank.
All three show, as this one does, only a tiny bit of the letter “Y” where the phrase “ONE PENNY” is supposed to be printed in full.
One of the three known examples is in the Royal Philatelic Collection, leaving only two for collectors to vie for.
Spink describes the stamp in its auction as fresh and very fine mint, and exceedingly rare.
The Scott catalog and the British Stanley Gibbons catalog differ somewhat on assigning a value, with Gibbons at £32,000, or around $42,250, and Scott at $36,000 (once again, in italics).
Spink places its estimate for the Trinidad rarity at £20,000 to £25,000 ($26,400 to $33,000).
The remaining sale in this auction series will open the Tuesday morning proceedings in London. It has been named “Great Britain, Featuring fine Line Engraved and Surface Printed issues, Queen Elizabeth II Errors and Varieties, The Property of a Gentleman” by the Spink firm.
Ten different mailed Mulready envelopes are offered early in this sale, along with a couple hundred lots of 1840 Penny Black stamps (Great Britain Scott 1) mostly as singles, but also in pairs, strips, small groups and on cover.
The sale includes an unusual item from the 1935 set of Great Britain’s Silver Jubilee issue celebrating 25 years of the reign of King George V.
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The 2½d vertical mint pair with left margin selvage is erroneously printed in Prussian blue rather than the standard ultramarine, a variety identified in the Scott Classic Specialized catalog as Scott 229a.
Spink identifies this issue as “a major rarity” that the Stanley Gibbons catalog values at £37,000 (£18,500 for a single error stamp), or about $48,860. The Scott Classic Specialized catalog value of $11,000 for a never-hinged stamp would of course convert to $22,000 for two.
The Spink estimate for this pair is £15,000 to £20,000, or roughly $19,800 to $26,400.
Several dozen errors and varieties from the reign of Queen Elizabeth II have made their way into this auction, including one of only six known imperforate examples of the 1979 Death Centenary of Rowland Hill souvenir sheet of four different denominations (a variety of Scott 874a).
An impressive block of 20 of the 1997 20-penny Royal Golden Wedding Anniversary stamp (Scott 1781) from the lower left corner of the full pane includes a block of six stamps at lower left that is fully imperforate, with additional stamps adjoining them that are at least partly imperforate.
Spink has made the catalogs for all three sales available online in two formats: as a downloadable PDF document, or in web pages. Online bidding options are available after registering in advance with the firm.
The catalogs can be viewed online. Click on “auctions,” then “by department” and then on “stamps” to locate the catalogs.
For additional information contact Spink London, 67-69 Southampton Row, Bloomsbury WC1B 4ET London, England.